Painted by Georgia O'Keeffe's sister Ida O'Keeffe, Roots is one of two works related to the artist's 1932 oil Royal Oak of Tennessee (Private Collection, New York), depicting a large oak tree in Bristol, Tennessee that was once a famous mustering point during the Revolutionary War. In a letter accompanying her application to the Public Works of Art Program, she cited the present work's exhibition at the Salons of America in 1934 and described, "'Roots', the roots of a very large oak in Tennessee. They look more like mountains. Were painted in the fall after the frost. A tiny maple tree grows out of the roots & is firey red. A huge fungi growth (white) springs from the earth" (unpublished letter, April 20, 1934). The other related work Roots in Autumn (Private Collection) was painted later in 1940.